Heirloom Farm Cottage

Albemarle, VA

Discovering the old; mixing it with new. What appeared to be a simple, worn-out, early 20th century stucco cottage was to be modestly renovated as a weekend retreat.  But when the contractor and architects began pulling away the interior wall finishes, they discovered a log cabin at its core (believed to date as far back as the 1780’s) and a newer addition (circa 1920’s) at the rear where the site slopes down.  Initial plans were scrapped, and a new project was born that honors the original construction while accommodating new infrastructure and the clients’ modern tastes.

The exterior finishes of the once-abandoned cottage were repaired and refinished; no hint of the log cabin within is revealed – a conscious choice of the design team so that others could share their delight in the discovery of the log structure within.

The original log cabin was entirely concealed behind painted wood paneling on the interior and stucco on the exterior. Logs were cleaned with a wire brush to maintain much of the original whitewash and chinking between logs was carefully repaired, replaced and stained with tea to the perfect color. One of the log cabin’s original windows, boarded up when the 20th century addition was built, was revealed. Minimalist details were devised to contrast with the carefully uncovered and restored materials. A custom fabricated modern fireplace surround adds simplicity and clean lines as a contrast to the texture of the log walls.

The attic stair enclosure was removed in deference to – and in order to visually expand – the original one-room log cabin. Wood floors, partially ravaged by termites, were repaired and refinished. The interventions of new steel structure, simple black iron handrail and glass stair guard provide a distinct counterpoint to the rusticity of the original construction, while the color palette of warm, natural tones harmonizes the composition.

A galley kitchen of concrete and reclaimed wood lines one wall of the walkout basement.  The existing concrete slab was acid washed, a window seat added to look out on the lower terrace, the stair stripped of paint, and the minimalist line of the new stair rail extended to connect the basement to the two floors above.

The reconfigured bathroom melds the original wide plank ceiling with cabinets made from wood cut on site and soapstone quarried nearby.

The one-room attic of the log cabin was insulated, refinished and revitalized as a second bedroom and sitting area.

Project Type: Residential

Size: 1,500 square feet